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Two of the out-of-form sides in League One face off at Fratton Park as Portsmouth host Bolton Wanderers.
Marcus Harness proved to be the savior for Pompey last time out as he levelled up the contest late on to earn them a share of the spoils at Plough Lane, and with it ensured that they would not make it three straight defeats in the league, and perhaps gave Danny Cowley a little more time in the Pompey hot seat.
It has certainly been a difficult and sub-standard start to the campaign from Cowley’s side, as instead of a side harnessing ambitions of pushing for promotion at the start of the season, they now find themselves sitting just three points above the drop zone as things stand, and Cowley will understandably be concerned with their form.
Just the one win their last five league games is from acceptable, and he will be hoping that his side are able to bring about an upturn in their fortunes, so that they are at least in with a sniff in pushing up towards the play-off spots when the January window opens. They are currently eight points off the play-offs, and so it is by no means unsurmountable, but given the way they are playing at present, it is going to be tricky.
Their opponents are a Bolton Wanderers side that you feel have lost their way of late in the league. Gone is the confident Trotters side playing a slick brand of football with a real swagger and confidence about them.
They are winless in four games, have dropped down to 13th in the table, captain Antoni Sarcevic has departed the club on a free transfer after falling out with manager Ian Evatt, and a late comeback point last time out at home to Gillingham very much masked over another disappointing performance; it is certainly not a happy camp at The UniBol.
What has become evident, or more aptly exacerbated in recent games, is their poor defensive record, conceding three against Plymouth Argyle and four against Wigan Athletic.
While both of those sides are in contention near the top, there has definitely been a shift in their fortunes, with the once formidable Ricardo Santos no longer manifesting the appearance of an impenetrable wall, and instead has taken on more of a colander-like appearance.
Indeed, The Trotters have conceded the most goals in the entire division so far (with 25) and so something needs to change in this department.
Portsmouth: (4-2-3-1) Bazunu; Romeo, Raggett, Ogilvie, Brown; Morrell, Tunnicliffe; Jacobs, Harness, Curtis; Marquis
Bolton Wanderers: (4-2-3-1) Dixon; Isgrove, Santos, Aimson, John; Williams, Lee; Kachunga, Sheehan, Afolayan; Doyle
Prediction: Portsmouth 1-0 Bolton Wanderers
Both of these sides have struggled so far this term, and I think that a win in this one will be a key boost for both, but I am going to edge for the home side. Of the two, I think that Danny Cowley is the more measured coach, and owing to the significance of this one, he will set his side to get a win in this one – by hook or by crook – to seal a much-needed three points. 1-0 to the hosts, with Marquis the match-winner.
One to Watch: John Marquis – The forward may not have got on the scoresheet last weekend, but it was his foray into the box and pull back to Marcus Harness that ultimately earned them a point, and I think that he may be the difference as he takes advantage of a poor Trotters defence.